Surescripts fires back at Amazon by kicking vendor ReMy Health off its network

Surescripts says that instead of using its own National Provider Identification (NPI) number, Pillpack fraudulently used NPIs that was associated with random healthcare providers.

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In response to the threat of legal action from Amazon’s PillPack for cutting off access to prescription data, Surescripts has booted the third-party vendor by which Amazon received the information from its network citing “fraudulent activity.”

Surescripts decided to bar third-party data vendor ReMy Health from accessing the company’s internal data and said that it is in the process of terminating its contract with the company and turning the matter over to the FBI because of what it characterizes as alleged violations of state and federal law.

PillPack did not contract directly with Surescripts and used ReMy Health as a go-between who would collect, clean and share Surescripts medication data, which would be used to inform its pharmaceutical sales practices.

When Surescripts got wind of this activity, it cut off PillPack’s access to the data through ReMy Health.

Without linked prescription data, Amazon would be forced to manually contact patients to collect the information, a laborious and error-prone process that directly contrasts with its promise of a simpler and more efficient drug purchasing.

According to Surescripts, it contracted with ReMy Health to give providers access to patient medication histories and e-prescribing benefits and when confronted with the fact that nearly all the company’s data requests were coming from one source, ReMy assured its partner that they were working with multiple providers caring for patients in hospitals.

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Surescripts alleges that it later found out that PillPack was the company’s primary customer and as an organization that doesn’t function as a hospital or clinician providing clinical care services to patients is not subject to access to patient medication histories.

Furthermore, Surescripts says that instead of using its own National Provider Identification (NPI) number, Pillpack incorrectly used NPIs that were associated with random healthcare providers.

“Either ReMy Health or its customers concealed unauthorized access to the Surescripts network by fraudulently using third-party providers’ identifying information to access the system – even though those providers appear to be entirely unrelated to the patients whose information was requested,” Surescripts CEO Tom Skelton said in a statement.

“Surescripts has spent nearly 20 years establishing trusted relationships and legal agreements with hundreds of data suppliers and EHR vendors across the country to securely exchange health information. These agreements ensure that the information we exchange is only used for patient care and not for the commercial benefit of any one data supplier. These agreements also help ensure that patient data is properly secured.”

Surescripts is a major player in the medication data and e-prescription space and is owned in part by industry incumbents including CVS Caremark, Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions.

ReMy Health has characterized Surescript’s claims as “unfounded” and “part of their overall market strategy.”

“ReMy Health operates in full alignment with our contracts and privacy law. We support patients facing some of the most complex and costly health challenges – expediting patient access to medicines by equipping patients and their care providers with essential medical and plan coverage information,” ReMy CEO Aaron Crittenden said in a statement.

“ReMy Health believes competition in the healthcare marketplace is best for patients and will continue to fight for what we know is right.”

Surescripts has long been accused of anticompetitive practices and has been involved in a recent battle with the FTC over allegations that it has illegally monopolized the e-prescription market.

Amazon, which purchased PillPack last year for around $750 million as part of its larger ambitions in the healthcare space. The company, which intends to disrupt the existing way prescription medication is sold and distributed has continued to butt heads with major market players as it tries to shoulder its way into the industry.

“A pharmacist’s job is to perform interaction checks, drug utilization reviews, and provide other clinical services. To do this, pharmacists need a comprehensive understanding of the medications each customer is taking. That’s why customers authorize PillPack, as a healthcare provider, to assemble their medication history,” PillPack spokesperson Jacquelyn Miller said in a statement.

“Given that Surescripts is, to our knowledge, the sole clearinghouse for medication history in the United States, the core question is whether Surescripts will allow customers to share their medication history with pharmacies and if not, why not?”

Picture: Ligorko, Getty Images